Category Archives: racing

Episode 8: Short but not so sweet

Hey everyone, this’ll be a short one…

Right, so right off the bat, I should tell you that it’s World War III on deck here. We just endured the worst f%&#ing night since we started the race. Enormous gusts pushing 40kts under full spinnaker, boat surfs between 17-18kts with no letting up resulting in broach after broach after debacle. Like the worst we’ve ever had. Everything we needed in the moment broke: boom-vang, spinnaker pole, lines, you name it. We channeled our inner Mark Watney and started troubleshooting one problem at a time, but the spinnaker just wanted to keep wrapping itself like a damn burrito around the forestay. Lost 2 halyards and I’ll unhappily make a list later of the sh!t that went down. With all this, we still don’t have a damn autopilot and must continue to switch off helm duty: there has been no rest whatsoever since the Captain’s Dinner.
Right now we’re just continuing to sort through minor issues and organizing the deck, but the wind is much stronger than it was before. We’re soaking wet and exhausted. We can’t wait until the finish line: that’s pretty much all that matters to us now. At this pace, we are projecting a Friday morning-to-noonish arrival.
We’re covering our asses, safety-wise, so no worries there.
Much angry love from the disastrous deck of Thirsty.
Position Day 3 - Morning

Episode 2: Happy Bastille Day & How to Feed the Fish.

Well we haven’t been hearing much from our intrepid sailors, nor have we received any pictures of the seas they are encountering. But if you checked the Pacific Cup tracker, you’ll see that as of 6:00am PDT, our boys had averaged over 8kts boat speed and have 1,730NM (1,991 miles) to go! What’s that mean? Well that means that Tuesday’s “carrier launch” race start wasn’t just a launch. It looks like Sailing For ALS has traveled another 200NM since we last checked-in with them!

090622-N-7780S-035 GULF OF ALASKA (June 22, 2009) Lt. Jim Imlah, from Newport, Ore., launches an F/A-18C Hornet, from the Death Rattlers of Marine Strike Fighter Squadron (VMFA) 323, from the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). John C. Stennis is participating in Northern Edge 2009, a joint exercise focusing on detecting and tracking units at sea, in the air and on land. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kyle Steckler/Released)

We heard from Charly this morning with the following email:

On this 14th of July, our French Independence Day (Bastille Day), we would much rather be at our friend Marc’s house playing bocce ball and grilling some sausages on the BBQ! Instead of that, guess what? Reaching, more reaching, and a little more reaching sprinkled on top. OK fine, we wanted this, but it’s battering us. Of this three-man crew (our boat, Thirsty, counts as one), only one of us loves it: Thirsty. We’ve been speeding along and keeping our averages up, but it’s nonstop wet and cold. Life on board isn’t great: we live either lying down or on our knees because the waves are so violent that we can’t stand up or maintain our balance. And hell, there’s so much sea water washing up onto the boat, we’ll be able to open our own sea salt shop in Kaneohe. Next time we might consider sailing to Hawaii on board Clapotis, our 40+ft Lagoon catamaran… You know, beds, showers, warmth, dryness, and stability…all these luxuries you guys take for granted on land.

Yesterday was discovery day at the Sailing For ALS boat workshop. To start, we were late for our sail stitch and patch clinic: take the main down, slap a kevlar patch on it, hoist it back up, all while managing 12ft swells…Needless to say, neither Fred or I really enjoyed that class. As a matter of fact, it sucked. And i’ll refrain from commenting on the instructor’s capabilities… Then we had maritime electronics clinic that we were also late for: we switched back to our old electronics package because the new one lasted…oh…all of TWO DAYS! They don’t make’em like they used to, i’ll tell ya. But now we have our autopilot back, albeit compass-based only, we should be in better shape here….hopefully till we arrive in Hawaii…you know…NINE days from NOW! And to cap off the day, we had a cleanliness and maintenance clinic. With all that sea water washing over the deck, Thirsty had accumulated 4 buckets of it in just a few hours time. Speaking of buckets… You guys know how you think we’re well-weathered sailors who can take on the big ocean? Well, Fred and I are still in a head-to-head vomit comet battle. Fredy’s ahead though, because he missed our Home Depot bucket twice now.

Our best friend, currently.

Our best friend, currently.

Anyway, we hope to eat a little more today, dry ourselves off, and maybe even start getting warmer. Not gonna lie, I am dreaming of a searing hot espresso right now… All joking aside, we are trying to keep hydrated and rested as much as conditions allow because we’ve both had moments where we were operating in the red. Performance-wise, we are still in the lead for our division and last night we were No.4 in the entire race, so we’re still in attack mode.

We are thinking of our good friend Iain…we’ll bring you the winner’s cup, buddy, if it means we have to haul it into your hospital bed.

Alright, that’s it for now, we probably have some other damn clinic to attend, this time on deck.


There we have it, friends. They’re fighting wind, waves, cold, sea sickness, and their best friend is a Home Depot bucket. Let’s cheer them on; we’re sure they could use a few encouraging words. Plus, let’s be honest, we don’t want to blog about their Pacific Cup 2018 on board their luxury catamaran…that’s not sporting!

We’ll talk to you tomorrow for our next episode. Stay tuned…




Ground-based Crew Says Aloha…oh and thanks.

Well, the race is over for Thirsty and we’re all very proud of them. All of us at the GBC, that’s the Ground-Based Crew (yeah we’ve got names and acronyms too here…one of our computers was nicknamed “Sloth” for obvious reasons), have been humbled and honored to be just a small part of getting what action was going on the boat out onto the internet.

The GBC had quite the task to perform: translating and writing all of the blog posts and Facebook entries. Let us run through the communication plan with you to explain a little of what was going on behind the scenes.

Communication onboard Thirsty was only via satellite, meaning mucho dinero pricey. Charly or Fred would write up the previous day’s summary and send it by 9am Pacific time. Due to the insane cost of kilobytes traveling from boat to space and back to us on the ground (go figure), words were sparse as were the pictures. It was up to us to translate from French to English and fill-in with a little more ornate language than was provided to us by the Thirsty crew. If you know Charlie & Fred, you know they like to joke around, so at times we could tell that there was a funny anecdote that could’ve been written. So, we decided to pretend we were them by writing long and hopefully humorous diatribes to fill in and give tone to the story.

Sometimes we wouldn’t get pictures and we needed to pull from some stock we had (no, we aren’t as good as the guys who supposedly faked the moon landing…because it was never faked) to help animate the story. Some times we would get multiple messages per day; some good and some not-so-good. We needed to shed light on some notes that were sent talking about dangers encountered (a flipped over fishing vessel), days of frustration (Aeolus sleeping on the job), technical difficulties (some keys failing to work on Thirsty’s only PC onboard: tht ws hrd to del with…we’d like to buy a vowel please!), and emotional setbacks (reminiscing what this race could have been like with Gilles still around). We were living vicariously through our two sea-going heroes.

Towards the end of the race, our two sailors were visibly tired. We say “visibly” because we could see it in their emails: the tone shifted, the emails got shorter, and the punctuation went out the window. They were both pushing for a cause and wanted to make the biggest splash for the ALS Association they possibly could. Yes, in the end we are short on our donation goal, but these two guys literally bridged a gap between the ALS Association’s Golden West Chapter’s always-covered territory of California and newly-covered tropical territory of Hawaii. They sailed in with Iron Horse up, big smiles, and got the word out. They did it for a good cause, in memory of a great friend, and for more stories to be told.

The race may be over for Thirsty, but it’s far from the end for the race to a cure for ALS. will be up for a long time and donations can still be made…even if not on the website, donate on the ALS Association’s website ( and click on “Donate” at the top right-hand side of your screen. Doesn’t really matter: the money goes to the same bank account funding care and future cures for ALS patients (100% of donations on SailingforALS go directly to the ALS Association).

We love all of you guys. We love you for reading. We love you for caring. We love you for sharing. And we love you for being there.

So from all of us on the ground (Leslie, Gary, Matt, Phillip and Christine) and full-time employees at the ALS Association (Jenica, Cherryl, Julie, and Fred), we are signing off for the day and will return with videos and photos of the whole experience.

Tonight, we got a call from Charly and Fred, three Mai-tai’s in and damn happy to be on land: the morale is back up and they are ready for another race…maybe not next year but probably the year after that. Additionally, the crew of Thirsty would like to send a shout out to Kay, an ALS patient of many years now who came to see the guys and their boat in San Francisco to send them off…it’s her birthday. So Charly and Fred both say “Bon anniversaire Kay” and so do we. Happy Birthday Kay.

OK, that’s it now.

Good night from the California Crew.

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